How Can You Find Your Calling?

What does work mean to people? This question drove oral historian Studs Terkel to record candid interviews with workers from all walks of life, the product of which was his most famous book, Working. Written before the dawn of the Information Age, the book is a portrait of a time when agricultural and manufacturing work … Continued


Kayla Mueller’s Extremist Calling

As a university professor, I consider my job a calling. It is a job that is both highly personally meaningful and one in which I get to help others on a regular basis. It is something that both I and Kayla Mueller—the most recent victim of terrorist group ISIS—have in common. In a recent New … Continued


Can “Executioner” Be a Calling?

As a vocational psychologist and author interested in people who pursue their work with passion and purpose, and especially who think of their work as a calling, I’ve collected many accounts of people talking about the work they love.  Paragons of meaningful work typically feel that that their jobs suit them extremely well, and provide … Continued


From Nirvana to Soundgarden to the Green Berets

Last week the New York Times profiled a man who might otherwise be remembered—if he were remembered at all—as the Pete Best of punk rock, having twice lost his shot at being a rock idol. But Jason Everman went on to give more meaning to his life than fame and fortune ever could. The troubled … Continued

Entertainment, Music

A Superhero’s Calling

In two earlier posts, I described how Spider-Man and Batman can offer some career development life lessons to nonsuperheroes like us. The superhero-as-career-development-role-model progression culminates in understanding how superheroes approach their jobs as a calling. Many superheroes have a strong desire to help others, even when doing so involves great personal risk. Typically, superheroes are … Continued

Comics, Culture, Entertainment

The Lesson of “Mr. Holland’s Opus”

Earlier this week, Ryan Duffy posted a thought-provoking piece on Acculturated that posed the question, “If we have a career dream, should we go after it at all costs?” He answered it by noting that the single-minded pursuit of one’s passion is fine for those who can afford the risk, but in the real world, … Continued


Why Does Leslie Knope Love Her Job?

Imagine you work at a job where your boss only cares about himself and openly dumps all of his work onto you. Your primary job tasks involve responding to citizen complaints and organizing community projects that more often than not go unnoticed. Oh yeah, and your coworkers consist of a well-meaning idiot, a selfish brat, … Continued